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US Office of Research Integrity appoints new director

Sheila Garrity will join agency after a period of instability at the top

by Dalmeet Singh Chawla, special to C&EN
February 15, 2023


A mugshot of a Sheila Garrity.
Credit: George Washington University
Sheila Garrity

Sheila Garrity, a prominent figure in the research integrity world, will join the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI) as its permanent director next month, the agency has announced.

The ORI, which oversees US public health service research integrity and falls under the US Department of Health and Human Services, has seen heavy staff turnover and rapid changes in leadership in recent years. Garrity replaces longtime staffer Wanda Jones, who was serving as acting director of the ORI. Garrity is scheduled to start her new role March 26.

The ORI is one of the few agencies in the world that not only issues sanctions—such as bans from receiving federal grant funding and from serving on peer review committees—for academics found to have committed research misconduct but also names them publicly.

The ORI is also well known for providing a definition of research misconduct, which, according to the agency, is “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.”

Garrity was the associate vice president for research integrity at George Washington University (GWU). There, she helped develop policies and run informational sessions to help research integrity investigators with their ethical and legal responsibilities.

As part of her role at GWU, the operations of the Office of Laboratory and Radiation Safety, the Office of Human Research, the Animal Research Facilities, and Regulatory Affairs all fell under her purview.

Prior to her time at GWU, Garrity spent more than two decades in the research integrity department at Johns Hopkins School University School of Medicine. Garrity is also the founding member of the Association of Research Integrity Officers.

“I think it is a brilliant move on the part of ORI to hire her,” Julie Simpson, director of research integrity at the University of New Hampshire, tells C&EN in an email. “Having a seasoned professional who has years of experience as a Research Integrity Officer (RIO) at different institutions and who is highly respected by professionals in the field bodes very well for ORI and for the regulated community.”

Simpson says she hopes Garrity will bring stability to the ORI. “I don’t know the culture of ORI as an organization but for the sake of the ORI staff and the regulated community, I certainly hope so.”



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